Two-try premiership hero Jason Nightingale will return to the field for the NRL Nines, 18 months after his decorated career prematurely came to an end for the Dragons.
Nightingale suffered an elbow injury in 38-nil loss to the Bulldogs in round 21 of 2018, the last of 266 games for the club, which included the drought-breaking 32-8 grand final victory over the Roosters in 2010.
The New Zealand international said he is excited to pull the boots on again for the Nines in Perth, with the Dragons still to finalise their squad for the tournament.
"It's going to be nice to finish my career on my terms, and not with an injury... although I still have to get through the tournament first," Nightingale told Dragons.com.au.
"I haven't done anything competitive for 18 months so it has been exciting to have a purpose to training and an excuse to hang around footballers again.
"It's going to be free-flowing affair with a carnival atmosphere and a great opportunity to not only wheel out the old fellas but also to blood some new, young talent."
Nightingale scored 110 NRL tries, including a career best 16 when the Dragons won the premiership and again in 2014 and 2017.
His inclusion in the Dragons squad comes as Andrew Ryan, who played in the Bulldogs 2004 title, Brisbane and Queensland player Corey Parker and Newcastle and NSW star Kurt Gidley also announced they will play in the Nines tournament.
The Dragons have been grouped with Parramatta, Canterbury and Cronulla for the competition, which starts against the Sharks on Friday afternoon. Wollongong will host six NRL games this season, including the opener against Wests on Sunday, March 15, then the Warriors, Sea Eagles, Raiders, Bulldogs and Rabbitohs.
The St George Illawarra women's team, featuring Australian representative Isabelle Kelly will also play at the Nines, kicking off against the Broncos on Friday night.
COUNTDOWN IS ON
Dragons pre-season games
February 14-15: NRL NINES (v Sharks, Bulldogs, Eels)
February 22: Trial v NEWCASTLE at Maitland
February 29: Charity Shield v SOUTH SYDNEY at Mudgee
March 15: Round one v WESTS TIGERS at WIN Stadium (6.15pm)
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